It's been about a week since our household has gone from 5 to 4. It certainly has been an adjustment for us all.......
A few months back, my oldest daughter asked to move to her Dad's house. This had been a day that I knew would eventually come and a day I had was NJ ot looking forward to. Having not grown up with my father, I understood her need to have a good relationship with her father and half-sisters as well. Speaking from experience, splitting time between family is very hard and can sometimes leave you drained emotionally. But it can also be hard on the households splitting the time, especially when younger children are involved. It can be hard to explain why someone is only around during at certain times of the year....and can be hard for little ones when they truly don't have a concept of time. My heart was heavy as I knew I had a big decision to make that would not only impact my home, but that could impact my daughter's relationship with me as well. I feared if I said no, she would resent me....that she would always wonder about what she would have had at her Dad's. My first instinct was to just say no. I cried for several days not really grasping why she wanted to go.....until she told me. All I can say is that my heart sank!! I felt like as a mom, I had failed her in some way. That perhaps I had been to hard on her when she didn't clean her room, when she fought with her sister and I didn't take her side, when I didn't listen all those times she was trying so hard to tell me something. At 13 no teenager really likes their parents.....right? They're too nosy, too bossy, and nothing ever goes your way. And there's always too many rules. At least that's how I felt at 13. Now, as a parent I realize that wasn't ALWAYS the case.....but I get it. The part that has been hard for me to swallow is that she confided in her dad before really telling me she wanted to leave. My feelings were a little hurt that she didn't trust me enough to just ask me. I can't nor will I indulge in all the reasons why she wanted to move, but it has made me take a step back to examine my life and all the things that I need to improve about myself and as a mom.
After talking about it with a selected few, I knew deep down I had no real reason to say no to letting her go. I can honestly say that I know her dad takes great care of her and providing her with all of the things that she needs and wants.....that her step-mother cares for her and treats her as if she were her own. She's being sent to a great school with opportunities that she will never have living in our home state. My husband and I talked it over....and even thought he never said, I think he was leaving the final decision to me. So....I decided to let her go. Of course she was excited....and so was her dad.
The next few weeks were fairly peaceful as we packed up her favorite things. Our family took a vacation to the beach....which was a first for our two younger children. Following that, my daughter spent 2 weeks on vacation with hers dad's family. When she returned, she spent her time with her friends, seeing family, and in gymnastics. As time drew near....saying goodbye was one for the hardest things I've ever had to do.
Since she has left, our house hasn't quite been the same. My youngest daughter has kept to herself, never really coming out of her room much. I devoted time to her...taking her to her favorite places to lift her spirits. We prepared her for school and now that she is back in a routine, she seems more content. The first day of school was harder on me this year when I realized for the first time in 8 years, I had missed my (oldest) daughter's first day. You know those cheesy "first day of school" pictures that flood your Facebook wall? Instead of posting my own pictures of my children together, I was seeing her first day via Facebook. Thankfully, her stepmother has set up a group page to share "news", pictures, and daily activities.....so really I'm not missing all of the important things....I'm just watching it from a distance. And unless you've been in the same boat, it's really not the same. Family dinners even seem odd. My son's highchair has replaced the once empty chair that was at our table, but it never fails....each night he calls out his sister's name only to ask "Where's Katie?" when she fails to show up at the dinner table. He's only 2, but eventually he will get it.
As for the rest of us, we will adjust. In the meantime, we continue to keep busy and look forward to catching up through phone calls, text, and pictures. October can't get here fast enough!